HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Attorney General William Tong announced on Wednesday the start of an investigation into Emmanuel Ku, the former landlord for Hartford’s Clay Arsenal Renaissance Apartments, and whether his actions as an owner are deemed unfair or deceptive.
Under Ku’s ownership until 2019, officials say the 150-unit complex became notoriously unsafe, unsanitary, and uninhabitable for its residents.
Officials accuse Ku of extracting millions in subsidies from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in city tax abatements. Tenants claim he violated his obligations to maintain safe and habitable properties.
“Tenants reported roaches, mice, bed bugs, mildew, black mold and apartments lacking the most basic of functions, including heat and hot water, working windows, and working toilets,” said Attorney General Tong.
Due to these alleged actions, Ku’s practices were in violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.
“The Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act gives our office broad enforcement powers to protect the public from unfair and deceptive acts and we are prepared to use the full scope of our authority to defend the rights of tenants,” Tong adds.
“Together we made a difference. We never gave up and we never gave in. I was proud to be a part of our victory. Now we turn our efforts toward the next fight for economic justice for harms done to all of our residents,” said CARA tenant leader Teri Morrison.
According to investigators, Ku had racked up hundreds of HUD and city violation notices by 2018. Tenants were unable to leave despite the unlivable circumstances without giving up their project-based Section 8 HUD vouchers. In May of 2018, HUD cancelled its contract with Ku by May that year. Ku sold the properties for a profit of $6.5 million in December, a number officials say was three times more than Ku’s purchase price.
All tenants have since been given portable Section 8 vouchers and relocated from CARA.
Per the investigation, “the Office of the Attorney General seeks evidence relating to the maintenance and management of Clay Arsenal, inspections records, rental agreements, repair records, maintenance costs, tax returns and financial records, tenant recruiting records and other documents.”
The complex was bought by Emmanuel Ku at a 2011 foreclosure auction through Ah Min Holding, LLC, a Connecticut-registered holding company.
Officials are giving Ku until March 15, 2020, to provide the requested documents.